I have three questions:
#1) Google claims to have transparency as a core value and as part of their mission statement, yet they have been becoming more and more opaque, particularly around their core business (removing the search API years ago, removing keyword data for organic search referrals while keeping it for paid, removing the social connections page showing how Google knows about and uses social data for your account, taking actions against those who aggregate paid search data and attempt to write about it, etc). How does Google reconcile their values with their actions? I know Larry & Sergey still allow employees to ask them questions every Friday - have people asked about this conflict? Have they given answers?
#2) What else, outside of your current role, is on your professional bucket list?
#3) I've always been hesitant/afraid of sharing politically charged content on my professional social channels, yet it's something you're obviously very comfortable and open with. I'm curious - has it ever gotten you into trouble? Would you recommend that open approach to others?
1. Remember I'm not involved in setting policy at Google. For anything. Let me make this observation. I think people don't have all the data that they might need when they go out and attack Google or Apple or Microsoft or SEOmoz. People on the outside have some data (including some that the company being attacked might not have). People inside these companies have that data, and a bit more (including insights into strategic direction/choices being made that might be a few years out).
In this tricky situation I personally believe that Google walks the tightrope really well. It is perhaps more transparent than most companies. As its business has grown it can and can't say some things (tight rope). I believe that it lives its values well.
I personally wish there was even more transparency on a couple things here and there. When I bring it up and get the context as to why that is not the case, in almost all the cases (except two) I'm satisfied that it was the right decision.
Google, like every company on the planet, gets things wrong. Often there is a course correction, sometimes there is a public reversal, always the wounds are licked and lessons learned for the future. I cannot stress how good Google is at that last part.
On the last part: At TGIT the answers are provided, 99.995% of the time!
2. In one of the comments above I mentioned the non-profits, that would be it.
3. Oh, no. Not comfortable. It is not easy.
I'm in a little different situation than you, I don't have to shoulder an entire company's business. I have Market Motive. I have my personal engagements and my personal platform. But it is nothing like being the CEO of SEOmoz.
At some point a couple of years ago I realized that I had a platform and to not use it 1% of the time to talk about issues I deeply care about is a mistake. Staying quite because people won't read my books or slam me on social media or hire me is silly. So I use my platform to go off message and talk from my heart. I talk about gay rights (I deeply care about equality). I talk about the sometimes poor choices US foreign policy makes. I talk about solving for the society and not just self.
I've decided that I'm only going to live once. Might as well be myself.
(But remember I care a lot less about my business than so many can afford do so this might not be the right choice for everyone.)
wow, I counted six.
I love Rand. He get's six wrapped into three inside one comment. :)
There's a channel-stacking/attribution joke in here somewhere... :)
Ha, ha! Nice.
I have three core passions. Incredible digital marketing. Incredible
digital experiences (cross-platform). Incredible money making
You're welcome to ask me anything about those three areas. Or about
my books (Web Analytics: An Hour A Day, Web Analytics 2.0). Or
business cultures (I've worked in India, Saudi Arabia, US with loads
of time spent in EU, chunks in South America, Asia). Or... Anything.
If I can't answer a question, I'll still reply with a polite "OMG! I
can't believe you would ask me that!"
Please upvote questions. I'll use that to prioritize.
I'll be online between 0900 - 11300 hrs PST, and 2200 - 2300 hrs
PST. I'll do my very best to answer as many questions as you have.
I'm working on my agency's cannes creative effectiveness entry for project re: brief, where we have to link creativity to results to win an award! Any tips or insights for something tricky like this?
David: There isn't enough context here to share any specific advice with you. But tools now are so advanced that you can pretty much track anything you want (with some effort even cross-platform, cross-media and cross-channel). So I do encourage you to have a discussion.
Thanks for quick reply Avinash! The guidelines are to prove how our agency's creativity met Google's objectives (to inspire the advertising industry). It's an atypical campaign that will probably need atypical metrics (like amount of newspaper coverage). How would you go about measuring something like inspiration?
David: Just the other day Google announced an ability to measure Brand Lift online as a result of a campaign. In this post they are using it for something different, but you can find inspiration from the approach http://goo.gl/NEEuf
You can also see the lift in sentiment in the fastest rising searches (leverage Google Trends as your data source).
You can also obviously use something similar to what Social Mention to capture mentions and then measure strength, passion, sentiment, reach. http://goo.gl/xTqfn
And other such things. Again, if I knew of more context in terms of what the actual campaign is we could come up with something. But hopefully the above will get you going.
I would say that with combined power of Big Data + Hadoop + Analytics tools, it's not too tough to gather insights now. Few of our client do use this combination, few of them are SMBs too!
what do you think about mozilla blocking 3rd party cookies? eg will it drive marketers to increase earned media & content since the cookies will block advertising (3rd party) cookies?
Beth: There will be no impact on the web analytics tools as except of the lamest implementations everyone is already using first party cookies. There will be a bigger impact on advertising analytics platforms (say data collected and reported by doubleclick or atlas or aol or facebook or other ad providers that can't help but rely on 3rd party cookies). At least for firefox users this creates a possible black hole.
I'm not sure that it will necessarily reduce spend on those platforms, analysts might lean more on other browsers to get performance data.
This does have implications beyond analytics, how do you now do retargeting for firefox users? How do you track who is clicking on your Like button across the web? How to do measure exposure of ads in one place and later visits on other places. Tough stuff.
Hi Avinash,I've been following you for a long time. Congrats on what you've did. Good luck :)
It may be silly question to you but may i know how you organize with Web analytics 2.0.
What are some good ways you have found to get around the loss of data to (not provided), other than Adwords, or do you forget about that data and just use what you have? Do you think that will be sustainable for the organic search community in the year or two to come at (not provided) becomes an even larger percentage of Analytics data?
Over 50% of my own traffic is now not provided (my sites are unique perhaps). It does make me sad. But I believe in moving on. I cried for few days, turns out that does not help (and I'm told high blood pressure results in a shorter lifetime). I had a small collection of strategies in terms of how I analyze the traffic, here: http://goo.gl/mlTtM I'm doing a few more types of analysis, I'll try and write more on my blog and share those ideas widely. Thanks John!
This made me sad too. It feels like we're moving in the wrong direction in terms of openness and fairness.
But, I'm not one to cry over spilt data either.
Thanks Avinash! Good to know that you also cried about it but chose to take care of your body and not give yourself high blood pressure :-)
In all seriousness, thanks for the link. I'm transitioning to more of a landing page strategy myself, and actually using ranking data more than in the past (which seems like the opposite way of which Google really wants to go).
What do you see yourself doing in three to five years?
I should have guessed that the hardest question will come from the person responsible for a large chunk of my career! Thank you Jim. Seriously. I think and plan a lot about my kids and how to think of the future in context of them. I think less about myself. But, there has been a gradual evolution in my focus away from Analytics in the last two years and much much more towards transforming how organizations think about marketing (and more specifically the intersection of immense customer delight and technology). That will accelerate. In the last six months I've spent time trying to transform massive organizations at scale and get them to move faster, better, give up on burning platforms, empower their incredible employees. I suspect over the next three years that last part will probably take a lot more of my time because I'm so passionate about it.
Can't wait!! Many thanks to you for the way you've moved this industry forward.
Can you elaborate on your last point here about transforming organizations? (1) which failures do organizations often make that you have to fix? (2) do you have any good resources on the user delightment/technology link? And (3) how do you get marketing to move faster?
Thomas: These are hard questions, deserving a richer medium to discuss. But quickly...
1. The single biggest one is org design because that gets the incentive structures lined up right and we get closer to getting skills aligned.
2. There are so many (depending on company, country, vertical). But I love what tripit does with its mobile app http://goo.gl/drPUf, I'm insanely in love with the sophistication of www.shopbop.com, I'm a big fan of Beneful's mobile web strategy.
3. Two things. Customer disappointment (specific to them) + Competitive regression (theirs compared to a direct list).
Can you please tell us what's happening with the ios6 'almost all search traffic counted as direct' issue?
It causes so many measurement issues it's unreal, and nobody has officially said anything about when it's likely to fix as far as I know.
Here's a little dashboard you can download into your GA Account to understand some of the differences that might be happening between organic and direct for iOS5 and iOS6 http://zqi.me/Wq39bA
GA is pretty lame at colors sometimes, read the legend the in pies that show up carefully.
I actually made that dashboard.
Any chance you could answer the Q? :)
So sorry, I got carried away by the beauty of the dashboard. :)
I'm not sure I can answer the policy question, Apple get's to decide how the experience will be in iOS6 and Google decides the policy on secure search.
As analysts we have what we get. We make the best of it. I'm not sure the situation is so dire (even if it all goes zero) that we can't improve our mobile experiences or our mobile seo strategy.
Thanks very much for answering that - I v much appreciate the honesty.
Avinash Kaushik! -- You're my idol man ( I love web analytics TV ) --- I have a question for you:
I've looked at:
But am still unclear as to how it would work.. I guess I could just test it (yeah, I'll do that :) -- But I'm wondering...
I'm building an app and want to be able to set a custom variable from my app's domain on client GA profiles.
For instance, visitor of client site A visits my app via clicking a link that the client provides.. visitor hits my app where I would like to "tag" that visitor with a custom variable.
I've tested it and I can push events, pageviews, and custom variables, but they don't attach to the visitors unique ID which is set in the _utma cookie.
I'd be happy to pay you for your consultation my friend! With the highest respect,
Arsham Mirshah (http://twitter.com/arshammm)
My second question: I've done a lot of work with Event Tracking recently - what would you say is 1. the most beneficial use of Event Tracking. 2. The most ingenious use of Event Tracking you've ever seen?
1. It forces companies to think about richer content engagement opportunities. 2. I can't share it publicly, but it was something to do with customization of a product. It was a combination of insanely sexy and deeply fuctional. We would never have gotten to that without creative event tracking.
What are your thoughts on Enhanced Campaigns?
I'm not an expert in Enhanced Campaigns. But I am a deep deep deep lover of mobile platforms and their opportunity to change how we engage with our current or potential consumers. And not just to pimp, but to really establish deeper relationships, dis-intermediate middle players and really own customers. Most companies are moving too slowly to leverage this opportunity, they need to really pick up the slack because the customers are already two years ahead of companies. I'm not answring your question, but I hope this broad context helps.
Hey Avinash, thank you so much for doing this AMA. My question is around forecasting SEO/inbound results.
What's the best way to forecast for unpaid/inbound channels?
As a brand marketer, I was often asked to predict results from our optimization and content marketing efforts up to a year (or more) in advance of actually doing the work. Then I would be held accountable to achieving the results that I forecasted. That's a lot of accountability based on a lot of guesses about the future.
If you were given this challenge, how would you proceed in a way that uses data to give a realistic view of the future?
1. If there is enough data (say over 18 months) you can take even the basic forecasting tools in Excel and forecast the past purely based on past performance. A little dangerous, but works fine as a baseline.
2. I spend a lot of time trying to understand where the company is investing money and how much (initiatives and people) and then based on past performance I create multipliers to apply to future performance. When we had x guys doing SEO we got from xx,xxx to xxx,xxx in xx months, now we have x+ so we can expect blahblah more.
3. I focus a lot on the competitive landscape. Not only where the industry and trends are going, but specifically how fast my competitors are individually growing, where their increases are coming from etc.
Simple things, lots of works, but they really work if you don't want forecasting to be a career limiting move. :)
Ha, It's true - forecasting is a tricky art. Go too conservative and folks think you're sand-bagging. But swing too far in the other direction and they'll get angry when you don't meet (unrealistic) targets.
Thanks for these tips! I especially like the point about accounting for the competitive landscape alongside the company's investment in new opportunities.
Thanks again for doing this AMA and being a strong part of our community. Cheers!
Were you managing metrics today for a news or information company, in what directions would you look for KPIs? Still the four metrics you suggest in Analytics 2.0?
Primarily I would solve for Loyalty, Frequency, Recency, Conversation Rate, Amplification and Applause. First three focus not on page views (though that seems to be what you sell ad inventory on) but on creating longer term relationships you can directly monetize. The last three focus on shareability and levering customer brand equity to spread and engage new audiences. That should be enough to get started, you to from there.
What will replace your usage of Google Reader?
The joke's on you. I did not use Google Reader! :)
I've always wanted a simple RSS reader that works offline. I use http://www.feedreader.com/
It is not only does that, it allows me to strip away the "amazing beauty" of sites to just get content and images.
What would really be ideal metrics for you when it comes to Search Measurements to win over customers confidence?
Anyone who can answer the "ideal metrics" question without a lot more context is an... well not a smart person. But. You win customer confidence by solving their problem (not yours). And a great metric for that (regardless of other things) is Task Completion Rate. More here: http://goo.gl/glHQw
Thanks Avi for the reference, looks really good!
In this post you talk about Micro and Macro conversions - http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/excellent-analytics-tip-13-measure-macro-and-micro-conversions/. Do websites, especially e-commerce stores follow this approach to conversion optimization?
What is beautiful about the Macro+Micro Outcomes concept is that it encourages you to solve for more than just the one or two percent that will convert. So you solve for all visitors who come to your site for all purposes. Optimizing for that means better landing pages, wider ad targeting, more incredible content strategies, better wider sexier SEO, and so much more.
Right. In that sense, do you think we should stop worrying about overall conversion rates and start focusing on conversion rates within a segment?
I think the people who win are "and" people and not "or" people. We far too often pick "or" because it is easy. So. You should care about Conversion Rates AND care about the Micro Outcomes. What is amazing is you solve for the Now (revenue) and the Long (relationships and outcomes that lead to long term outcomes). It is much harder to be a "and" company/person. But it is much more satisfying (and of course you end up richer which is not a bad outcome!).
Interesting. Thanks! :)
How should I measure if I'm retargeting somebody too many times?
What's the business culture like in Saudi Arabia and how long did you spend working there? Genuinely interested in hearing about that. :)
A longer discussion on a different day. But it is a great life lesson to work in a openly racist country where you are openly a third class citizen, can't travel outside a city without your employer's permission (!), can't date, can't... well a ton of can't. It does teach you a lot of things. I took a picture of the Ministry of Information on a late night walk (though it is not allowed) because the building is beautiful. I spent the next few hours with a machine gun very close to my head being threatened. You take things a bit more seriously after that. :)
What is your recommendation for small, midsized, heavily industry specific B2B firms that want to engage in a true Content Marketing campaign. What are nowadays options for RCS in this type of companies? Thanks!!
I think you are asking the wrong person. The right person for this answer is the amazing Dharmesh Shah: http://goo.gl/8GSzL
Thanks for the kind words, Avinash.
Jesus: The question is a bit broad, but a couple of pointers:
1) Don't think of it as a "campaign". Content marketing is likely going to be an ongoing process of establishing thought leadership and building trust.
2) It's all (or mostly) about the content. Small businesses continue to move online at a rapid place, so even across relatively non-tech oriented businesses, you'll find that an increasing number of people in that industry are reading blogs and participating in social media. Start building reach and influence.
Based on what specifically you're trying to do, both SEOmoz and HubSpot have *lots* of free, useful information on these topics. And, you can also browse through the archives here on inbound.org as well to find some great material.
With the rise of local and customized search, are there any Analytics 3.0 tactics or metrics that you feel are becoming more important or will be in the future?
Sure, I do a lot of work right now for local businesses with physical locations. Obvisously making data driven decisions is a very important part of the process. There are lots of mobile searches for these clients and traditional organic search results for these clients and highly filtered though their location etc. I'm wondering if there is any insight you could provide for specific analytics techniques for dealing with situations like these above and beyond the ones laid out in Analytics 2.0.
Thanks. With mobile (and all the new data possibilities) there is no set framework yet. We are still figuring out what all the possibilities are. I'm gratified with having a new platform (not stuck in old web analytics models) to collect interesting data that we can shape to give us the answers we want. More details on the platforms are here: http://goo.gl/PnFZ7
I promise to write a longer post soon with specific analysis possibilities. Until then: 1. Figure out what macro and micro outcomes your mobile web/app presence is trying to drive. 2. Collect data around the engagement points. 3.Figure out if your outcomes are being delivered.
Thanks! Can't wait to read your thoughts on it!
(not set) & (not provided) refers to in the Google Analytics Reports? Does
the premium version show this data?
Remember: There is on difference between Premium and Free when it comes to data capture and reporting. There is some difference in processing (unsampled reports), but not with data capture and reporting.
Not set reflects typically a "user error" or "did not get data because of the vagaries of the internet or you did not code the campaign right or you sent people via a redirect." It applies to pretty much all kinds of analytics reports (in all analytics tools and not just GA).
Not provided refers specifically to the case where for secure search Google does not send the keyword searched to all analytics tool. More on this here: http://goo.gl/U7R2v
Who's your favourite wrestler?
I have three distinct jobs (not counting my blog and personal digital platform). Combine that with the love of my life (my god's gift to me spouse and kids). I don't know any wrestler. I did not big chunks of the olympics, not sadly don't know which country got wrestling gold. So sorry.
Hi Avinash! Do know yet what your Mozcon topic will be? :D <3
I have to chat with Rand about that. :) I'm sure it will be something related to analytics or search.
The topics I've absolutely loved talking about recently are centered on digital experiences I deeply love, and why, and some of the innovative ways mobile is disrupting the way we think about business, customer relationships and making money.
It is so much more fun to look at big things, the challenge is most audiences just want to know: Help me do my job, don't help my company figure out the future. :)
Thanks Avinash! Well as a fangirl, I'll be happy to hear you speak on anything. But it's very true that often times people just want to learn tactics and don't want to have to think too much. I'm looking forward to your talk... whatever it may be!
You are so sweet Jennifer. I look forward to seeing you!
How did the market motive idea came about? And what gets the founding team excited initially to kickstart this startup?
Ohh one more thing...when's the next Web Analytics book coming out? It's been a while since :)
John Marshall and I LOVE teaching. I was teaching classes at Stanford or UCLA or Darden and I realized the education there about digital is from old times. One thing lead to another, John and Michael sold ClickTracks and were looking for the next thing, education seemed to be an opportunity, and we were passionate about it. Bada, bing, bada, boom!
Sometime this year I hope. Probably a balance between how to think about marketing optimally (I really think this is the core problem) and how to measure it magnificiently.
You say you are interested on incredible money making stuff Profit and non-profit. What technologies do you forsee as being crucial on incredible money making business models?
(Sorry I keep clicking on the Vote arrow rather than reply. We need to fix this software! :)
Technology is simply an enabler. I personally do not believe that technology is a hurdle today to make incredible amounts of money (for profits or non-profits).
The hurdle is the limitation imposed by our imagination. The hurdle is having the right people. The hurdle is having the courage to take risks. The hurdle is the inability to fail faster, fail forward.
All those things are crucial.
The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?
OMG, how old do you think I am! :)
Lol, those bands are timeless! Age is no factor.
What is your least favorite out-of-the box Google Analytics, why and what would you suggest to fix it?
Julien: Do you mean standard reports? Metrics?
There is so much I don't like. Mostly because I'm a very very tough parent (only in this case, my kids at home totally rule me). I don't want Analytics to be good. That would be lame. I want it to be gloriously magnificent. And that might not be enough.
GA has gotten better with every quarter. It easily beats competition (they have to bring attachable upsold products to match).
But there are so many things I would fix. I hate % Exits as a metric. It is useless. I dislike Time on Site (this is a sum of all time spent, what the heck is that good for). I would throw away the funnel reports completely (and replace them with www.paditrack.com). I hate the fact that Adwords sits in a section by itself called Advertising, when there is a section for Search and Campaigns. That silly silo means you can't contextualize Adwords easily with other acquisition strategies. And don't get me started on the "last not direct attribution model".
See what I mean by tough parent. And you should see what I can do to Omniture or WebTrends or CoreMetrics. :)
The good news is that most of the things above you can easily fix with Custom Reports http://goo.gl/QESD6 and Advanced Segments http://goo.gl/fz6ud. So maybe I should not complain. But I still do!
As a web analyst, I spend time doing both code implementations and data analysis - which do you prefer?
And how do you balance both when they are both required in a project but time might be limited?
Keep in mind that my opinion is quite contrarian on this. There are definitely a very small subset of amazing god like people who are good at both. But the skill profile required to actually have a big impact is so distinct that you are either good at one or the other. And Data Capture folks (you can call them "coders") are rarely good at Analysis (remember real analysis, not reporting).
My point of view, and deeper rational and difference between Data Capture, Data Reporting and Data Analysis, is here: http://goo.gl/E59pO
To your question...
1. You are unique. You need to get 10x more than what you are today. That's for sure. :)
2. There is no question in my mind, analysis. Coding just collects more data. Without time or skills to do analysis you are adding zero value to the business. So I would take limitations in the data (in a limited time scenario you describe) and spend time analyzing.
What are some of your favorite Google Analytics Plugins / Resources that help streamline Goals across profiles?
Best place to go is the GA App gallery. Here's one for copy/pasting goals:
Would you have chosen the red pill or the blue pill?
Red pill. :)
Hi there Avinish!
I have a friend who's an editor for a major online newspaper/website in Canada. My friend needs some help with understanding Google Analytics - what would be some of your recommendations for online courses that are in the ballpark of $500 (her company's budget for the course)? It can be through an online University course or a private party that you think is reputable.
Thank you in advance!
Will: Why don't you have her get started with www.conversionuniversity.com? It is a free course set up by the Google Analytics team. It is quite structured and nice. After that your pal can pay a $50 fee and take a exam to be certified, but she does not have to.
Other than that there are other sources to learn. For example http://training.cardinalpath.com/locations/ has a lot of them. Or Udemy.com is also quite nice.
Gah! I don't know how I mispelled your name, Avinash! My bad!
Also, I'm curious why you didn't mention MarketMotive since you're a co-founder?
Thanks for your ideas about using Google analytics events to measure Dwell time instead of Bounce Rate. What are your tips for determining success with Dwell time metrics?
For sites like my blog (or my BFF Thomas' most excellent fantastic must read by any digital person site http://www.baekdal.com/) a very large percentage of people will just come to read the latest post or one post to solve a specific problem. Dwell tells you what that engagement looks like because all web analytics tools stink (natively) at capturing time for single page view visits. I use the data to figure out what content is causing people stay and read. Is there a dwell time that leads to higher conversation rate. Is it correlated to social sharing. Does page speed cause higher or lower dwell time. And at least in some cases to see if dwell time causes me to make more repeate visits (and money!).
So many questions...1) Be honest. Is Site Catalyst better at anything? 2) Why does the data highlighter only do events? 3)Taco Bell or Taco John's or Del Taco?
1. The Omniture suite (Site Catalyst + Data Warehouse + Discover + Searchcenter) does many things really well. Deeper corporate data integration and some visitor based segmentation type things are much easier if you have the whole portfolio. 3. Taco Bell! I do like the new Cantina menu, even if I'm a bigger fan of Chipotle.
Will we continue to lose data resolution due to privacy concerns (e.g. keyword (not provided), iOS + Safari encrypting google searches) and personalization (e.g. keyword ranking reports declining in reliability due to personalized SERPs)?
Remember we still have more data than any other channel on the planet. Complaining about our data loss is like someone on a private jet, on a chair made out of dollar bills, drinking champagne, eating caviar and complaining that we need to switch from Grade One Russian caviar to Grade Two. :)
Even if all cookies disappear, even if all keywords disappear, we have more data than we know what to do with. In some small cases we will lose some precision. But we still have lot do to.
I have very specific advice on this topic for what to do. Please see this post: Cookie / Privacy Laws: Implications On Data Collection And Analysis: http://goo.gl/nL8cy
Thanks Avinash! I'll be using your "grade 2 caviar" analogy to rebuff future (not provided) complaints.
What is the first thing you will measure when Universal Analytics is fully rolled out?
Offline conversions for online leads. This is magnificent.
I have to tell you I'm waaaaaay more excited about unique visitor segmentation capability than I am about UA. Finally we can focus on people rather than cookies. We can focus on repeat purchases rather than a single conversion. We can start focusing on long term success with Lifetime Value. Smarter, longer term focus for longer term business success.
Avinash, what did I miss here, where is the info on non-cookie based unique visitor tracking??? I know about the Measurement Protocol and that works for people that are identified by being logged in or having an email registered, etc..., but I still can't marry up data from devices from the same user without that email or being logged in, right?
Use log file parsers. Just do a Google search.
Beyond server logs it is unclear that you can identify people when either people or governments don't want you do identify them.
The second part of your comment is a little confusing. Are we still taking about privacy and non-cookies stuff? If not, apply for the beta for Universal Analytics, http://goo.gl/CgoZQ , it will allow for cross-platform tracking that is not reliant on cookies.
> We can focus on repeat purchases rather than a single conversion. We can start focusing on long term success with Lifetime Value.
What tools do you suggest using for measuring things like Lifetime Value?
You can use Google Analytics in the near future: http://goo.gl/bwEyi
You can buy solutions like Discover from Omniture/Adobe, or similar from IBM or WebTrends, and integrate with your offline systems to do the same.
I was under the impression that Universal Analytics was the cookie-less tracking and that dimension widening (unique visitor segmentation) was enabled because of UA. Either way, I'm tremendously excited for the capabilities both will bring to the table!
How creepy is retargeting? (not remarketing)
Ha, ha! Creepy is in the eye of the beholder.
It is important to remember that retargeting works, and works really well. But a massive chunk of retargeting is done badly and causes me to block the advertiser. So use the options that the ad platform you are using provides to not deliver delight rather than creepiness.
One ore the biggest differences between TV and Web is that on the Web we can get lots of signals about intent. On TV you are just a monkey at the other end (the advertiser knows zero intent). It is especially true for retargeting, or remarketing. Think really hard about the intent of the customer, can you get any signal around that, use it to the deepest extent you can.
For what it's worth, I don't find it creepy, but I do find it irritating in most cases.
Looking back what is the one business/analytics project you could have worked on but didn't have the time that you would have loved to have done? ie Bill Gates Foundation and Malaria Research?
Also how do you prioritise what new projects/businesses you consider working on? Someone pitches you a new startup idea or you think of a new web analytics tool you want to see built?
All the money I earn from my books (a little over $250k so far) is donated to Doctors Without Borders, The Smile Train and Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation. I would love to work with any one of them to have a bigger impact. I love these charities, I might just retire to one of them.
I'm incredibly blessed to have a role that is very unique. In my three jobs I have immense leverage to only do things I like doing. My selection criteria (in rough order of importance) is: 1. How hard is the problem. 2. How much innovation is required. 3. Is there really a fit with my core skills, or am I just kidding myself. 4. How monetizable is it (for the company, me).
I rarely reach #4. By the time the first three filters are passed, the decision is made. :)
Pinterest launched a paid analytics package this week. Facebook has some pretty incredible insights for business too. For these huge social networks, do you see paid analytics as becoming *the golden ticket* for all of these companies who at some stage (10, 20, 50 years) will have to realise their valuations.
If so, how do you see that playing out?
What alternative, scalable revenue paths do you see for the likes of Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook etc.?
Many thanks for your answers in advance!
I have to admit I don't really think Facebook provides pretty cool insights in its reports. I spend a lot of money on Facebook. But Facebook does provide a lot of really cool raw data via their API that you can use to create metrics that really matter. More on what I love in terms of measure success on Facebook: http://goo.gl/5uhKv
It is important to know that you should never get too enamored with a silo of data. So never let AdWords reporting be your only source or Facebook or Pintrest. All these platforms do a good job of telling you what is happening in that silo, but not its role in your broader business acquisition/engagement portfolio.
So use these silos to get tactically better at that platform but then spend a lot more time in a cross-platform measurement solution like Omniture, WebTrends, Yahoo! Web Analytics to understand the silo's performance in context of all other strategies and spend time understanding the people you are acquiring and their behavior across platforms (using reports like Multi-Channel Funnels).
Does that help?
Thanks for your answer - makes sense to put them in context. Interesting how that may effect the value proposition of "Pinterest Analytics" etc.
Do you think dashboarding tools like Klipfolio are useful here for tracking cross-platform performance as you've discussed here, or is it doing a different job?
Also, when are you coming to Australia? I keep hassling the local Googlers to try and bring you down for a Masterclass event or something. :)
Dude! What's you're favourite colour?
Though things evolve. My desktop background starts off with green on the top, fades into a yellow, which in turn fades into a orangish red. I find it deeply calming.
What does that say about me? :)
Hey Avinash, loved your book! I work with web analytics all the time and keep wondering why all the stats are as expressed as averages. I'm scared outliers will really influence some of my metrics. Are you aware of any intention by Google Analytics to start offering the opportunity to use metrics such as interquartile range? Or, even better, "customise" it by choosing the percentiles?
It is a function of how things always were combined with the desire to "make things simple."
I hate it.
Here's my point of view on "four not useful kpi measurement techniques" Averages, Percentages, Ratios and Compound Metrics: http://goo.gl/BnK6O
I also share alternative approaches in that post.
If you worked for a Company that did not want to upgrade their lame KPIs in accordance to the goals, would you continue to wait out the time for them to change or move on? How risky is it reporting the same version 1.0 metrics, knowing you can do and suggested better to no avail?
I want to be careful. There are some people because of location, skills, or other reasons can't move on. So keeping that in mind: move on.
Life is too short to do a job that brings you stress and does not allow you to have an impact.
Try really really hard to drive change. But if it does not come, move on. And in case you decide to do that, here's my post on analytics job titles, salaries, four different roles: http://goo.gl/lSl59
Good luck Joel!
1) How do you see Google solving the problem of tracking single visitors across devices to get cleaner data in GA regarding engagement, new visits, multi-channel funnels, etc...? Today, that information is lost due to the current cookie based approach to tracking. Do you see a way for Google to implement this in a multi-platform way without getting into trouble with the government over privacy concerns?
2) Despite the evangelization of web analytics over the last few years, I am blown away with how many marketers still do not look at GA or [Fill in the blank] analytics software beyond just basic reporting and do not use them to gain insight and perform real analysis. How do you think Google can improve the on-ramping of GA to better drive new users to become analysts? It seems to me that GA would benefit from a getting started guide that not only shows you the sections of the toolset, but also that taps into your work to highlight KPIs and strategies for analysis directly within GA.
3) Jerry, George, Kramer, or Elaine?
1. Universal Analytics http://goo.gl/fl1Rb Apply for the best as soon as you can!
2. You are right Michael. I'm personally pained by this. Hence my repeated attempts to teach how to think and not just how to press buttons in GA. Here's the latest edition: Google Analytics Tips: 10 Data Analysis Strategies That Pay Off Big! http://goo.gl/0xaqG
The team at Google is also paying very close attention to this issue. This year you are going to see a major emphasis on simplicity and easy of understanding (not easy of use) in GA.
3. Elaine. :)
I wrote my first question here before asking you that clarification further up the page on unique visitor segmentation.... my question is, how can I use Universal Analytics to track the same visitor across devices if they have not given me a common "key" (such as an email address or being logged in via twitter etc...) to identify them as the same visitor across those devices?
I am interested in your field of work/expertise and intend to write a thesis related to it. However I haven't decided exactly what I would like to research yet. I am practical and do not want to waste my time with something that would not be useful once I finish my studies. Could you think of a title of a thesis that would discuss something the knowledge of which will in your opinion be useful in the coming years. Thank you in advance! I enjoy listening to your video lectures. I hope there will be more. Kind regards. Urška
Here's the title: "A Big Data Imperative: Driving Big Action"
As I think about our personal lives, our professional lives, robots taking over the world, it we are going to see a massive explosion of data. Yet it is 100% unclear (yes 100%) how we are going to take action, how are we going to action all this stuff. It is definitely going to algorithmic it is definitely going to be automatic, it will not need human beings.
But how do we get from here to there. If you study that you are going to really add value to the future (and if you find solutions, you will be super rich so there is that).
I am reading your book "Web Analytics, an hour a day": most of your advice seems geared toward public websites with a large visitor-base. I am new to web analytics, plus I have a different aim: Publish technical user documentation online and use web analytics methods to improve content. The customer base is fairly small, hence the numbers of visitors will be low. The products are targeted at software developers, the content is about software products in the automotive industry. With a small and very specific target group, how can I best analyze? There must be others out there whose aim is quality for a small number of people (possibly with restricted access to the information), but it seems most of the information is meaningful only if gathered from a large base of visitors. Any ideas?
Monika: A little while back I'd written a post for the Government of Belgium with advice on what they should measure. It is very applicable to your use case, check it out:
The focus was non-ecommerce and not necessarily large sites and to deliver a service.
Thanks, you've given me some pointers I will follow up on. I really appreciate it!
On the same lines of what Monika mentioned in her query, I also work as a web analyst for content publishing team for technical user documentation. But, the challenge is that no. of unique visitors/day would be approx 1000-1200 and the content site is a closed site(login based) inside a bigger support portal. With no information on traffic sources of external search keywords.
1) How can I best leverage on the limited data from a relatively smaller visitor count?
2) We have different types of feedback options for users, but very limited response rate. What would you suggest to improve on this?
3) Content publishing system are majorly based on search infrastructure. Would you recommend going for Contextual/Semantic Search implementation on this. for better user experience/ content find-ability/ etc. ?
Many thanks in advance !
If you have very little traffic remember that you can't read too much into the data. I'm sometimes a little taken aback when people talk about "massive data discrepancies" when they are looking at 18 total visitors or take big action off a total of 25 conversions.
You should always be very very careful about small datasets. Often with very small sites you might be better using surveys to talk to customers or using online usability studies (they are twenty or so dollars a pop) to find insights.
1. Look for big chunks of trends and patterns. I use for the biggest Unique Pageviews and what content is that. I use at the top All Traffic Sources etc. Stretch time frames to see if over time one thing or the other is popping out.
2. Try online usability options like www.loop11.com or www.usertesting.com
3. First find out if that is a problem. Look at the Internal Site Search data (pay attention to % Search Exits - the bounce rate of internal search). If it turns out that is the problem then enhancing the search capabilities of the site can pay off big (and you can also measure that impact using analytics).
We have been measuring and analyzing these things since the day I joined.
Problem comes in when we try to look for Internal Search Data it is in a very discrete sort of shape with almost every user looking for something else. And a very limited no of repeated instances or higher frequency of searches for same keywords..
What we see is 1's & 2's in the instance count for all the failed searches & Search Bounce..plz suggest?
Feedback that we have on the site is also kinda mixed.. for ex we receive some 130 odd feedbacks over a period of 1 month .. from a total 25-30k visitors coming to the site. And this set of feedback is also mixed into 32% Resolved, 33% Unresolved, 35% No Effect. What can we conclude out of this. and how..
130 is not a bad number, that is enough to look for trends. Rather than focus on the numbers (resolved, unresolved etc) I just segment the data and read the open text responses to the question "Why were you not able to complete your task today?" They will share issues in open text, it is upon me and you to come up with interesting solutions to test. Please consider this.
My question is if I am planning to build a lnbound marketing software just like hubspot or salesforce then which all things should I initially concentrate, which all are the sections that should be given high priority and what are the most needed features & what we should be kept for future.
Your suggestions please.
It is very very dangerous to give strategic business advice based on five lines of text. The end result is contextless non-impactful suggestions.
So I'll avoid that. :)
But look for people who are that space. Be sweet to them. Ask them for a 30 min Google Hangout so that you can see them, you can give them some more context, you can answer some questions about your ideas, then they'll give you relevant valuable advice.
I'm sorry for not being able to help here Christy. All the best!
Can I get some suggestion personally Avinash?
Thanks for doing this AMA. My question is, what's the best way to determine the percentage of iOS6 Google traffic without a referrer, in cases where we don't have access to our paid search referrer data?
It is going to get very hard in the future because we are going to lose relevancy, but at the moment we can do rough guesstimates using this dashboard http://zqi.me/Wq39bA We can see what the past was and then we can roughly imagine what the current might be.
I'm sorry Id on't have a better answer.
To track clicks on links properly in Google Analytics, do I need to delay the redirection so that the utm request gets send before the new page loads?
Just use the GA Async Code, released in 2009 http://goo.gl/cRgC1
Hi Avinash, what books do you recommend for learning more about setting up, managing, etc within Google analtyics?
Brian Clifton has a great book called Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics, grab the latest edition:
Avinash, thanks so much this has been incredibly informative. I've spent over an hour reading your responses and linked posts. Really good stuff!
My question(s) deals with local, small business companies. As this push towards content marketing (blogs, guests posts etc.) becomes more prevalent how can my small business clients (with limited resources and budgets) compete at pumping out content? Is content marketing the right way for small business clients? What strategies do you think are valuable in the local, small business space?
Alex: Here's the thing. Don't pump content. Pump out passion.
Passion comes from two things: 1. What you are knowledgeable about and 2. What you love.
Big companies stink at both. They are not knowledgeable about local unique situations, people, issues. They are not passionate about it because they don't live where you live. They have to be generic and passionless.
Exploit that. Only write about what comes from the intersection of #1 and #2.
Sure you are not going to outrank Mr. Humungo. But slowly but surely you will build a local and relevant audience and in the end it is not about attracting 1 million people, it is about attracting the 1,000 that are in your area that want to give you money.
A real estate person I know has a facebook page. He only has 800 Likes. Remax has bazillion likes. Yet he posts short snippets about Seattle on this page. He engages people from Seattle on his page. He has conversations. Guess what? He gets a ton of leads from Facebook, and better than other Remax agents who are relying on Remax's master account to pimp them.
Hope this helps.
Thanks so much.
I am fairly new to GA and I was just wondering why I can't see certain metrics when I am trying to create a custom report. I am trying to add the "Avg. page load time" metric but I can not seem to find it in the "content" category where it should be. Do you know why this is?
I just found out about you and really appreciate all the information rich blogs you create to help us get a better understanding. you rock!
Ryan: Use the search box that shows up on top of the drop down when you choose Add Metric or Add Dimension. Then it does not matter which folder the metric is in, you'll find it.
But sometimes GA won't let you use some metrics with some dimensions because you are breaking cardinality rules. In lay speak... you can only measure Thing One with Things Z and A and Q. To measure Thing One with Thing M does not make sense at a database level so GA smartly does not let you do that. :)
Avinash, thanks all for the great insight. Do you have any solutions for deciphering and correctly attributing the "dark social" traffic that gets dumped in direct traffic?
You can 100% control if your social actions will end up in the dark bucket (especially traffic from mobile and desktop apps). Be brave, use campaign tracking parameters on 100% of your own social shares. See what I do in a comment somewhere in this AMA (search for UTM).
You can't control what others do when they link to you. Your browser based traffic (mobile or desktop) will have a referrer so you are all set. No darkness. The app based traffic will be dark.
But not for Twitter. Twitter you see is a very smart company. It wraps 100% of its links in t.co. So no matter what people use (apps or browsers) it is never "dark." If you don't add tracking parameters, it is sitting in referrals under t.co.
So our problem is mobile and desktop app traffic only for Facebook etc where other people link to you but don't use campaign tracking.
Do you know what they do to people who leak dates at Google?
Painful stuff Daniel. Painful stuff. :)
On a serious note, the team has said that UA will be "available soon," the team has said it is already in public beta and that is always a good sign.
Hi Avinash - HUGE fan (aspiring ninja).
It seems like there is a sizeable gap between the perceived importance for professionals to understand financial and mass-media metrics over web metrics in the professional world. Do you ever see that changing in educational or the professional sector - especially for those in the business and communications sector?
Also, what are some resources I could use to quickly and effectively try to explain the complex world of web analytics in a succinct way? I typically find myself stuttering out "well, it's a specific situation in a complex ecosystem... ramblerambleramle" so any tips you could give me to translate would be much appreciated.
Jenna: So nice to meet you.
It will change. It has to change. Or I'll have to jump off this building! Optimistically it is changing. I just got a note from a very very large US university where there is a lot of heat to "make this web thing work" and they are spending a lot of money on training and improving usage this year. Ditto for communications sector (though very large parts of this sector are still faith-based).
My short text is: "Analytics helps us create delighted customers and improve profitability. Which one do you want first?" :)
The trick to pulling this off is to have a very strong grounding in what is actually important to the client/company. Usually we end up as glorified data pukers because we (shame on us) don't know what the business is solving for.
So if you want your company to take you seriously, instantly hug you tight go to them with a well constructed Digital Marketing & Measurement Model. It fits on a page and ties data to what the business cares about, major focus and love comes your way. http://goo.gl/nC5Hz
Tip two: Sometimes I just figure it all out myself, since for the DMMM you need a little help from Execs. Here's my subversive strategy to get the company to take me/data/digital seriously: http://goo.gl/WsHnd
Knock 'em dead!
what is the average Ecommerce Conversion Rate for a site, how can we track the multi channel path if user used different device each time.?
I hope I am not too late to ask a question, I work on a service providing company website trying to promote them. The biggest challenge I face while link building is lack of quality content. What are your views on content for a website. How should I increase it, should it be keyword based, user based or just casual blog posts related to a niche.
Do you think traditional web metrics can be used effectively with mobile web and apps? I find customers use mobile devices and browsing habits to be quite different from the desktop web.
In the end you are solving for the same thing: You want to get rich, you want your customers to be delighted. The difference between mobile web and apps (and a little bit with desktop experiences) is what you put the emphasis on. On mobile you shift the emphasis to be more on customer value and delight (powered by geo, other intent signals etc) and solve for longer term value. You create a tight connection with mass audiences so you don't have to rent them again and again from Google or Facebook or AOL. Then you make money. There is more complexity, but that should give you some ideas.
If you're taking a look at a companies email marketing campaigns, What "quick wins" would you look for? How do you think mobile viewership is affecting email campaigns?
I. Love. Email marketing! Checkout this post that compiles everything I could possibly share with you about it: Email Marketing: Campaign Analysis, Metrics, Best Practices: http://goo.gl/4uyKg
If you are not thinking about the transformative nature of mobile on email consumption and engagement, you are making a BIG MISTAKE.
Thanks for the link Avinash!
For a retail store how important do you think it is to do print ads and direct mail in conjunction with digital marketing efforts? I heard you speak once about no-line marketing, but that was a few years ago - so I'm wondering what your thoughts on this are now. Thank you!
Cara my dear friend, it is mandatory! If you are not doing that, I'm never going to speak to you again. :)
Cross-media campaign integration is one of the top secret powerful ways for you to outflank your competitors and delight your customers. I love how Tide does it. If you look at a TV ad for Tide right now or go to their site or their YouTube channel etc, it all looks the same. They reinforce the same themes. So amazing. A very small example of you are taking about.
It's too bad I can't post pictures here. I have an amazing one for you. TV only has a brand recall of 50%. TV + YouTube (across pc and mobile) moves that do 74%! And adds a 4% increase in Reach and 200% increase in Frequency.
There are so many similar metrics for Print and DM.
Kill silos. Optimize portfolios. Get a raise. :)
Thank you! I was hoping to hear that - and thank you for taking the time to do this AMA. I almost forgot how funny you are! I'm going to find some silos to kill now.
If you need to grow a companies digital revenue by say X amount over 5 years, and haven't really been involved in digital investments, i.e digital ads, so no baseline numbers to go from however will want to invest in all avenues to get to that number, how would you proceed?
I would log into Compete and HitWise and AdWords Keyword tool and see what's working for the competitors (direct or indirect).
That will give me more than I need for the first six months. Then I have data. I would go back to our CFO with a two year plan. Then a year in I will go back with a five year plan.
In organic search resutls we seem to be seeing a lot of google places listing (google plus if you may) showing up just after first three or four search results. Clearly they would affect click throughs. I have two questions actually:
1. Can we measure the google places search results through GA?
2. Effects for businesses that may not have a physical location to use Google places?
You know this is really lame but I just don't know. So sorry.
But here is a great post from our beloved SEOmoz website: http://goo.gl/Il35s
Say a website's inquiry form is getting 100 inquiries a day. Inhouse team is working on SEO, Social Media and Paid Ads. How can the website owner differentiate between the leads generated? She wants to know how many leads were generated via SEO; via Social Media and via Paid campaigns. Any quick fire Analytics solution?
I must be mis-udnerstanding something, but this is easy. Just use Campaign Tracking: http://goo.gl/iSjm6
For example here's how I differentiate between traffic I generate for myself from three social platforms, vs traffic others generate for me:
What is your guess about the % of companies that have a positive ROI with their web analytics projects?
5%. I think I might be overestimating that.
A very large reason is not analytics or data. The problem is people. Sr. Management being stubbornly gut driven, because that is how they grew up. The company only having Data Collectors and Data Pukers and not real Analysts. Etc.
But if you are serious about calculating Return on Analytics Investment (ROA) here's a post with a downlaodable spreadsheet: http://goo.gl/ZBlVS
What is your favorite, truly actionable tip that you would give to someone interested in increasing conversion rates?
Run a survey using http://www.qualaroo.com/ to measure Primary Purpose and Task Completion Rate.
It will blow your mind.
Which bolllywood actor/actress you will like to give an analysis?
Sadly it has been such a long time since I've watched Hindi movies that I've lost all my frame of reference.
How would you improve the SEO practice of rank tracking with data from Google Analytics?
There is much better place to this this answer, and here it is: http://www.seomoz.org/ugc
Awww... but I wanted to see your take ;)Loved your post on Return on Analytics Avinash. Thank you for giving everyone so much. Whenever I'm stuck on some frustrating aspect of GA, Occam's Razor is always my first choice for solutions.
I've been obsessing a long time over building the best possible universally applicable GA Dashboard. I know it's a tall order, and I'm well aware of your Acquisition/Behavior/Outcome framework for reporting, but if you could build the perfect dashboard, what would be your absolute must-have metrics?
Universal applicability is a myth. And, even more sadly, it will produce no fame or $$$ for you. :)
Pick some way to create some relevancy. When I was handed the task of "recommend four metrics for every business in the world" the path I took was to segment by company size. That's how I tried to improve the odds that the thing I'm creating will be relevant, or at least a very very relevant foundation for them to spring from.
There are so many ways to do that (not just my big/mid/small approach). But Michael you have to think about that. I keep failing at solving for everyone because, after five years of failure, I realized I was solving for no one.
Here's my recommend metrics post: http://goo.gl/K5R3u
That's fair enough. The only reason I asked is that - as fun as reinventing the wheel is for each new client - it's not practical or scalable when I'm one of only a few people making dashboards at my very-search-busy agency.So I do appreciate the company size segmentation idea. Better starting point at least.
Despite the incredible increase of data collection online and all the buzz around big data, I'm surprised that more solutions haven't popped up to help us leverage more intent signals in more channels.For instance, with the rise of real time bidding and the on-set of the Facebook exchange, we can finally retarget on Facebook. However, I haven't heard talk of anything that takes Facebook's mountain of data and leverages that through ad exchanges. Facebook connections, likes, behavior could easily drive youtube ads using the same real time bidding technology that's driving retargeting on FBX provided these companies decided to play nicely together.But, even beyond connecting data points in a single browser session; Google and now soon Amazon have the ability to connect desktop behavior with a mobile device. Do you foresee either of these companies engaging in cross-device search, behavioral, or even transactional retargeting?Its incredible to think of what ad platforms could do if they were connected to the right data sets. I was interested on your take on where you see big data like this influencing advertising in the future and where some roadblocks might be? Are these dream scenarios of connected data feasible given an increasingly privacy concerned legislation (domestically as well as globally)?(sorry for so many questions, not every day I can catch you on an AMA)
It is very hard to answer this question with something pithy. So let me just say that in the end it is not the possibility of what you can do that is the gating factor, rather it is the ability of Marketers to think of new possibilities and new opportunities (and give up on old habits) that is the key.
If there are ideas, money will follow. If money comes, all these platforms will get leveraged.
The fact that these platforms are a gift from God is irreleavnt in a world of old habits and old ideas.
What are your thoughts about data visualization tools integrating with GA's (and other dbs & marketing platforms's) API's? I've started on Tableau and now can't see myself without it.
I know you have provided many dashboards that are built into GA, but are there any examples of "advanced dashboards (for lack of a better term) that have been built on a Tableau (/Spotfire/etc), that can visualize more information on a screen than just a flat table (I know GA allows for dimension drill downs, but that still involves going deeper).Also, any knowledge of UA's non-beta release?Appreciate the AMA, as I've read your blog for years.
I'm very excited about data visualization. There are already many many amazing integrations with GA, you can find them in the App Gallery: http://www.google.com/analytics/apps/
But, only speaking for myself, I'm not interested in just GA or just what can be done inside/with GA data.
I love spending time on D3. http://d3js.org/ There are so many incredible visualizations that blow my mind, and more importantly make me do my job better.
Now I'm not waiting for a software provider to build me something or for some vendor to integrate. I get inspired with D3, I download, I hack, I smile. :)
Do you see an expanded use of Google's Data Highlighter in the near future?
Also, how much of an impact do you believe site architecture and thematic organization has on search performance?
Thanks man, appreciate you taking the time to interact.
I see it as one more thing I can do with Webmaster tool to control what happens with my search awesomeness. Google has a habit of doing this, I expect that Google will continue to put you in charge.
On your second one.... Every search engine, Google, Baidu, Yandex (they have great Webmaster tools by the way) uses a multitude of signals, way more than you might imagine, to understand the web and find relevancy to user queries. I do believe that site architecture and thematic organization is important (you can see how it effects crawling, understanding of your site etc).
is it wise to no index / no follow microsites which are used primarily for paid campaigns? What if they are getting some organic traffic that converts?
I'm afraid there is not enough information here to give you concrete advice. But think about your content strategy (same content in different places, only one place), think about fragmentation of your presence on serps, think of confusion for customers, and other such things.
I would never make the decision based solely on my search engine optimization strategy. I would think about customer experience first, the overall business strategy second and then implications on SEO.
Hi Avinash ,
Hope you are doing fine
1) what are you're thoughts on facebooks graph search?
2) you re celebrety on analytics front but when it comes to facebook why few clicks ? any pattern you see of people behaving differently on facebook?
1. Too early to tell.
2. I'm not sure either one of your postulation is true. :) On the second one, if your Facebook strategy is completely focused on getting clicks (from your brand page or FB display ads) then you might fail spectacularly. The reason is simple, that is not why people go to FB.
I have a comprehensive post on this: http://goo.gl/yXWI6 More specifically see the "FB - Digital Advertising Diff Map" about a third of the way into the post.
I love Facebook as a brand channel. I have 10x less followers on Facebook compared to G+ (where I have 126,000), and yet I get fantastic and often better engagement.
Thanks Avinash......you have inspired a tiny entrepreneur from Pune like anything......can i post on Fb that The Avinash Kaushik answer my question......... and i am surely gonna read "FB - Digital Advertising Diff Map"
I'm glad that you found the FB Diff Map to be helpful Sourabh. All the best!
Hi there Avinish
I'm looking around for Ad Hoc reporting tools for my company (I'm in travel business) do you have any suggestions where I should look.
I'm so sorry I don't quite understand the question. Would you please share a bit more context? Thank you.
Daniel: You are on the right path. You do want to look at the distributions rather than averages. My starting points for how best to create the segments are the Engagement report (Audience > Behavior > Engagement) which shows Visit Duration and Page Depth. And the Frequency and Recency reports.
They tell me where to ballpark things and where the outliers are.
I have some other ideas here: http://goo.gl/BnK6O
There are also a number of solutions, like Tableau http://goo.gl/UWWp5, that are much more sophisticated about this stuff. Check 'em out as well.
Why when outing Adobe Omniture for link begging did you not disclose that you were a "Google Analytics Evangelist"? A lot of people who read your post did not realize you were not necessarily an unbiased source.
Ronald: Definitely. If you look at my twitter feed it says who I am, where I work (you just hover your mouse). Under my picture on Google+ it says "Works for Google." Under my Facebook Page it says "Works for Google, Market Motive". On my Linkedin page it says "Google, Market Motive". On my blog... you get the point. If you Google search me...
I'm immensely proud of the companies I'm associated with. I'm very open about it.
PS: I was the third person from a completely different company to post that exact same email publicly.
Thanks for doing this AMA, Avinash. Every time i look for something related to analytics, i end up on your blog :)
My question is - what do you think about people-centric analytics tools like KissMetrics? Do you see that coming to GA?
Suresh: I love KissMetrics. They have been pioneering something that even tools like GA or Omniture or WebTrends can't do out of the box. Sure you can hack at it, get bloodied and maybe make it work. But not out of the box.
Here's a list of features: https://www.kissmetrics.com/why
With regards to GA... I've mentioned somewhere in this AMA that in Oct the GA team announced Unique Visitor segmentation analysis, http://goo.gl/VI85I, keep an eye out for that.
My company use GA but the data become sample when we select two dimensions. The Premium is too expensive for us so can you seggest any other tool to do the same thing for us but not with a sample data?
Zhanyun: This is a tough situation. You have to remember that every company needs to make money. If you store a lot of data and want to use their machine power to process it, you will have to pay. You can try to call WebTrends and Omniture, the impression is that they are really expensive (and in some configurations they can be) but in many situations they might be cheap. Talk to them and please get more info.
Another way to pay for the horsepower you need is to DIY. Piwik is a wonderful open source web analytics tool, http://piwik.org/ You have to do the implementation and host it etc (so that's how you pay), but perhaps it will work in your case.
My question about G+ ,when I search my G+ Business Page link directly in Bing and Yahoo search engines, both of them shows 'NO RESULT FOUND'
Is Bing and Yahoo restricted G+ Business Pages ?Should I do any optimization for my G+ business pages in these search engines also?
Dejeesh: I'm afraid I don't know what might be up.
I just searched for "Avinash Kaushik" on Bing and the third result is my G+ page, with the proper intro excerpt. http://goo.gl/KD0FV I just searched fro cadburys on Yahoo! and their Google+ page is seventh on the page. http://goo.gl/DEA8X So some indexing is happening.
As yet I'm not personally aware of any extra special optimization you need. I've been careful for my businesses to 1. post actively 2. ensure good optimized text on the About page 3. location/address etc are filled out.
Perhaps others will add more.
Hi Avinash, my G+ profile is indexing by Yahoo and Bing, but my company G+ business page is not indexing. It have only 301 pluses.
Thanks for this AMA.
My question is ---
1. Is Omniture better than Google Analytics or not?
2. Should we use any other analytics tool or not apart from GA? If yes, which one (free)?
3. Do you set questions for Google Analytics Exam?
1. It really does depend on what you are trying to get done. They are both created by very passionate people who try and solve very hard problems. A few years before I joined Google I'd written this post on how to pick the right web analytics tools, I still believe that process works well: http://goo.gl/UcgOy
2. I recommend monogamy and not bigamy. :) You should only have one clickstream tool. Trust me getting insights from one is hard enough. But you read my second book, Web Analytics 2.0, you'll see that I do recommend using multiple tools. Just one clickstream tool, but then also a qualitative research tool, one competitive intelligence tool, one a/b testing tool etc.
3. I've found it is always better to study the material, www.conversionuniversity.com, rather than ask for the questions up front. :)
Thanks Avinash :)
Your twitter "following" count has been 88 for such a long time. Why 88 and why not 100? What's the logic behind this? #curious
Ha, Ha! Good question.
88 is a "lucky number" for the Chinese. It symbolizes fortune and good luck. http://goo.gl/9GxXj
My twitter strategy is very different from many people. I really read everything said by everyone I follow. But that places a limit on how many I can follow, so I decided to stop at 88. Later I realized this is also just below the optimal Dunbar number (the cognitive limit for stable social relationships) so it works well. http://goo.gl/9GxXj
Fun Fact: On Google+ I had to choose a limit. G+ is really good with circles as easy filters. So my limit is higher: 404. Guess what inspired me? :)
PS: I completely forgot to add, I do follow new people on Twitter all the time. I just force myself to unfollow someone. Keeps improving my follow list!
Do you see semantics search replacing current search in the next 3-5 years? And how may this impact SEO & analytics?
Monil: Here's the wikipedia definition for semantic search: "Semantic search seeks to improve search accuracy by understanding searcher intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable dataspace, whether on the Web or within a closed system, to generate more relevant results."
If you reflect on it for a few mins I'm sure you'll agree that with every passing day, with every little step that Google/Bing/Baidu/Yandex take, search has been becoming semantic for the last couple of years at least. The process might even be accelerating.
In terms of SEO, I think the very core of SEO (content creation, earning unbegged for links, having a social platform with engaged audiences, et al) will remain important. There might be new nuances that crop up here or there, more data we can share with the various webmaster tools, but we all adapt to them pretty easily.
Would you come back to Mexico to give a speach this year? (yes, its an invitation). Also... basic question: diference between Bounce Rate & DropOff (from the "Visitors flow") Have Fun!
Marco: You are so kind. I would love to come back to Mexico, I have so much new stuff to talk about!
Bounce Rate you know already. Any session with just one "hit" recorded. A typical hit is a page view. So visits with only one page view have 100% Bounce Rate.
DropOff is more like an exit. So the person might have entered from a different page y in the site, then came to this page x and "dropped off" the site.
Bit more context here: http://goo.gl/Hkm3q
thnks!.. it because the site has 1.39% Bunce..but,, didn't make much sense in the "visitor s flow".. now seems clearer..=) thnsk.. how can we contact to explore the possibility of tracking your visit to Mx as "returning" =p
Macro: Bounce Rate of 1.39% is not possible. No even on God's site. :)
I suspect there is an issue with the technical implementation of the site. Maybe the code is implemented twice or they are firing off an onload event or something like that. All those things would mess up the real bounce rate.
I found it "suspicious" too but its what its says..this is the site http://www.intersoftware.com.mx/ (wordpress,, so its tbeing tracked by a plugin) any toughts are very welcomed... (the Google Tag Assistnte chorme extension, says 2 codes are running ok)
The exact same code is implemented twice on the site, in the header (around line 76) and again in the footer (around line 871). That is messing up all your data.
The site needs to just have one. Keep the one in the header, nix the one in the footer. Then you'll get a clean bounce rate (and other metrics).
you are so nice! truly.. its incredible -actually it isnt =P - that you spent some of your time really engaging with your followers and doing this kind of deep interaction even for "everyday" issues... Thnaks.. I would remove the second one right away... and I will keep on learning from the most qualified people on this field.. I would DM you (not sure I Acctualy can) to see if we can figure a way to have you once again in Mx) keep Sharing!
Thanks for the insights!
I'm new to the printed circuit board manufacturing industry and my manager wants me to identify the long tail keywords related to the questions designers would be searching for to identify topics for content pieces. How should I approach that?
Does GA or Adwords certification help?
You can learn about GAIQ certification here: www.conversionuniversity.com The lessons are free. You don't have to take a test in the end, but if you do the cost of the test is $50.
I have a old post on the value of the long tail keyword sand how to find them. http://goo.gl/orCIT The post references the Search based Keyword Tool. This tool has been folded into the AdWords Keyword Tool now. You can use the guidance in the post with the AKwT to start the process of identifying the relevant terms.
You can also look into competitive intellignece tools that are available in your local geographic areas.
That would be great if you drop more insights of Marketmotive certification? How it helps in terms of career perspective?
I've designed the Market Motive Web Analytics Master Certification course with a great deal of love to solve one simple challenge: Rewire the brains of the students to think smarter about analytics. How to best capture data? What kinds of business questions to ask to focus on delivering value? How best to approach competitive intelligence or qualitative analysis? How to create advanced segments and custom reports that deliver high impact? And of course the many approaches to analysis.
It is not a course about how to use GA (use www.conversionuniversity.com) or how to press the right buttons in Site Catalyst. It really is a course to learn to think like an analyst.
Hey Avinash, I have had this doubt about the 'h' shown on Google PageRank toolbad. What does it stand for?
Divi: I encourage someone from our vibrant community to answer this, I'm not sure.
But I'll mention that I don't really pay attention to PageRank anymore. Not that it's not important, rather because there is so little I can win by solving just for that. There are so many other SEO wins I can keep track. The other factor is personalized search. No matter what search engine you use there is so much other context - from location to history to language to recent clicks to freshness to... so many thing - that they are using to ensure that you and I could sit right next to each other and type the same query and get different results. Hence my personal strategy to solve for other things, the Page Rank thing can take care of itself. :)
What are the best resources in form of Article, books, video or anything you will suggest to become pro in Google analytic and Google ad words. (Except the Google official course certification)
Rajesh: You should get the official certifications if you don't have them. It is always good to have the official point of view. But as you say, don't stop there.
For Analytics you should try to get good at Analytics and not Google Analytics. My personal guide is here: Web Analytics Career Guide: From Zero To Hero In Five Steps! http://goo.gl/xlKUH It has a ton of resources, university courses, books etc listed.
For AdWords I highly recommend Brad Geddes' most excellent Advanced Google AdWrods: http://goo.gl/QBv2y
A few basic and (hopefully) quick questions if I may...
- what would you reckon is the safest way to spot & verify that GA is properly set up? Traffic are coming in, but in lower doses than I have reasons to expect..
- Are redirects on domain levels, ie from http://domain, https://domain and www.domain to "domain.com" best managed via a 301, without (SEO) risks?
- in Google Analytics, I assume you should register the domain to which the URL is redirected to (see above), or does it matter? For instance, I think you have to type www, or http, while our target redirect URL excludes those parameters.
1. Why do you suspect that lower dose of traffic is because of improper GA setup? :)
One tool that is still being built out and improved that I do love is http://www.gatective.com/ It checks for implementation issues.
2. I'm a fan of Permanent redirects. I believe search engines love them too.
3. Click on the Admin button in GA and checkout the Tracking Info and Property Settings. There are a couple different things you can do in there to set things up properly.
well, the embarrassing answer to your "questioning reply" is that our company has 2 websites; one which is maintained, optimized and cuddled with, and the other which just sits there for the last 12 months, no TLC whatsoever - and guess what, the latter comes out winning each month in terms of visitors.
fair enough, # of visitors is not an objective per se, but it gives that uncomfy feeling...
thanks for your "replying replies" too btw :)
What are your thoughts on the future of education and educating via video based courses ... are they an effective replacement for classroom based pedagogy. MarketMotive has an awesome set of courses and resources ... I was hoping you could share some of your experiences on e-learning and how you use your wizardry for MarketMotive to help people learn.PS - I dont gush, but cant stop myself ... huge fanboy here. Respect.
Prasad: Let me have others share with you what they think about Market Motive: http://www.marketmotive.com/testimonials
I can only speak for the US... there is an overwhelming consensus here that education in terms of the traditional model is only going to get more broken with time. In California now you can take online courses and get proper college credit. So education is going to get massively reformed. Online will play a very heavy role in that disruption. The models are still early in their evolution, but I'm immensely excited.
(Let me rant here about the insane amounts of debt, in hundreds of thousands of dollars - not a metaphor -, that students are straddled with even when they graduate from an ok university, not even a top one! It is shameful the universities have come to this.)
Thanks for this opportunity to interact with you.
We are developing analytics to track post click user engagement / conversions on mobile campaigns.
The current crop of mobile ad campaign metrics used by ad networks and ad servers are limited when it come to understanding the user's post click behavior.
We are trying to solve this via deep event tracking and building user flows.
Would love to hear your thoughts on this specific topic.
Sameer: I'm so excited about mobile, I could dance in the streets with very few clothes.
You are on the right path in trying to rethink tracking from a technical perspective, the metrics to be used, and, this is key, the depth of outcomes tracking.
In terms of my thinking, you'll see it in practice in the new mobile app tracking and reporting being put in place inside the Analytics platform. It is really cool. http://goo.gl/IpgMj
The specific part you might like is the Acquisition, User, Engagement and Outcomes framework (and reports at the end of that page). I've championed that framework as a way to ensure an end-to-end focus.
Can't wait to see your exciting effort!
I have two questions (unlike Rand, I'll actually make it two. haha)
1) You've dropped a good number of high quality links on this AMA so I know you're stacked with resources. What are the best and most informational links in your bookmark file that you haven't given above?
2) What "obvious" (to you) question was not asked in this AMA that you were hoping to answer?
Matt: 1. You are implying that I'm hiding something. I'm not! This AMA is so fantastic that I think I might have everything here.
If there are links I've not shared they are mostly things I'm passionate about that perhaps are not relevant in context of this AMA. I'm very fond of the Minute Physics channel, watch it with my kids, http://goo.gl/rs9zd. I love the Guardian's data viz website for inspiration http://goo.gl/n5Pc3. I really like the curated model of Counterparties when it comes to financial news http://goo.gl/kngyh. And Coolness Graphed is always good for a chuckle http://goo.gl/oWCns.
2. There are so many! This AMA has been a very interesting learning for me about the SEO/Inbound community. And it has been a lot of fun.
Haha well I know most of us are collectors - I have 1500+ notes in Evernote so I love adding to that. I'm going to take a look at everything you linked in - thanks!!
1) How much of SWF (Flash) files is Google currently able to index?
2) Does indexing a mobile website create a duplicate content issues?
3) Blank pages are considered duplicate content?
4) Is it consensus that after Penguim, it's not advisable to write all the anchors with the exact keyword phrase but only say 50%?
Thanks in advance!
1. Don't know, sadly.
2. I surely hope not, I will cry if Search Engines are that unsmart.
3. Good god, I hope not.
4. Now you are just trying to get me into trouble. :)
This was a great post Avinash. Thank you for taking the time out. There was allot of great information to read through.
You are so kind Jessica. This is has been an incredible amount of fun for me, a great way to spend seven hours. I'm grateful to Rand and Dharmesh for inviting me.
Thank YOU so much for doing this Avinash. Great discussion.
How to track view through conversions?
What do you think is the future of Google's Pay Per Click advertising model? Is Google's profitability really sustainable? Advertisers cost are skyrocketing as ROI is decreasing due to high CPC.
I just wants to clarify a question regarding G+ profile and business page.
My G+ account have 4 friend and the G+ business page have 301 followers. I just concentrating only in my G+ business page and I do continuous updation for that only and not doing any updation or follow ups to my G+ profile so its still 4 friends since 1 year.
My question should I do updation/followups for both G+ profile and Business page?
If I don't do any updation for my profile, is this effect my business or social ?
Hello Avinash. Among all the internet marketing methods on the web, which method do would you suggest start-up businesses should take? Thanks.
I have the same question when it comes to choosing the best method for a start up business
1. What is the charity of program that you would recommend based on the impact it has on people? (Kiva, Heifer, Population Action), etc
2. I am doing an interview series of top marketers and CMOs I admire on my blog http://bit.ly/1gHjSMP . Would you be interested in participating? It would be an honor..
Thanks in advance,
Great! Head over to login and use your credentials there